Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  We have enjoyed what felt like Spring for a while.  It’s over!  Low temperatures are night will dip into the 20’s for a few days, with high temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s.  That more like what we call Winter in Townsend. Today’s high is expected to be in the high 30’s.

Little River is flowing at 287 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.14 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 288 cfs.  That’s about as close to normal as you can get.  The water temperature is 48 degrees early this morning.

Fishing may be decent today because the water is still warm.  Overnight, the water temperature will drop and that trend will continue all week.  Fishing will slow as the week progresses.

We will start the new year with precipitation.  We all hope we have a wet year in 2015.  This year has been slightly dry with rainfall amounts below average almost the entire year.

We are fortunate in our area, to be able to trout fish all year.  Fishing slows during the cold months but trout can be caught.  Most anglers resort to nymph rigs and weight, dredging the stream bottoms, hoping to drift a fly right by the trout’s nose.

Winter is a fun time to fish if you are dressed properly.  You may not catch many fish but there are other factors that play in, to make your fishing more enjoyable.  You can see more when the leaves are off the trees.  There is also a noticeable lack of people in the Park.

You have to keep an eye on the weather. You run the risk of ice and snow in the mountains, though the weather forecast in the valleys may not mention poor driving conditions.  The water is cold.  If you fall in and get wet, you should always have a change of clothes in your truck.  Stay close to your truck for the same reason. 

The Smokies can be very enjoyable during the winter months.  Still, we can’t wait until Spring which is not far off.

I looked again this morning at the news releases from Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There was nothing mentioned about opening Lynn Camp Prong.  I did notice one release announcing the temporary closure of Cades Cove in January.  Evidently, the maintenance people in the park will be removing or trimming trees.  Cades Cove will be close January 6th through the 8th and the 13th through the 15th. 

Cades Cove, one little beautiful valley in the Smokies, receives more visitors in a year than most National Parks.  That number is somewhere around 2 million people.  Approximately 10 million people visit the Park.  This is the most visited National Park in America.  It lies within a one day drive of 1/3 of the population in America.  This park is part of a vast wilderness as it is contiguous with many National Forests in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.  I love living here.

Saturday will be fun at the shop.  We have two excellent fly tyers who will be demonstrating their skills.  One is Dave Harrell.  He is relatively new to fly fishing and fly tying.  But, he has put his time in and grown into our sport quickly.  Dave is very active in the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Project Healing Waters.  Dave tied at Fly Tyers Weekend and drew a crowd.  Come share his enthusiasm.  He is contagious.

I’ve know Rex Wilson for a long time.  He has been fly fishing and tying flies for decades.  At one time he was a professional fly tyer, contracted to tie Smokies patterns during the time when most flies were tied in America.  He is amazing to watch.  He is a well known Southern Appalachian fly tying authority, one I would compare to Walter Babb, Kevin Howell or Roger Lowe.  There are a few others who I can’t think of right now who might compare.  I write this report very early in the morning and sometimes my mind is not awake.

I know where I’ll be Saturday.  I’ll be at Little River Outfitters watching these guys tie flies.  I will be learning, just like you will if you attend.  It’s free, just show up.

Dan Munger has all kinds of new ideas for classes and special events for our shop.  I’m excited to see what he is planning.  My job is to get the word out. 

After over 40 years of running small businesses, I’ve stepped out of the “Boss” position.  I feel like it’s time for Daniel Drake and Dan Munger to take over.  It’s time for them to take the heat and feel the responsibility.  So far, what I’m seeing, is progress.  These guys are up for the task. 

We changed roles and frankly, I’m enjoying it.  My decisions only deal with my job, accounting and marketing.  It has been an easy transition for me mainly because they are very capable and willing.  And, at this point, I am willing. I got tired of making decisions, particularly, small day to day decisions. 

Daniel is like a son to me.  He has been working here and taking on a lot of responsibility for 18 or 19 years.  He is 38 years old, 25 years younger than me.  He knows a lot more about the inner workings of Little River Outfitters than I do.  He wants to do things differently and improve the shop.  He is doing a great job.  He is feeling the heat. 

Daniel and Dan will end up owning Little River Outfitters and who knows, they could become the next Cabelas.  It’s their future and their challenge.  I will help them as much as possible without being too much of a conservative influence on them.  I like the way this is going.

I’ve noticed, I spend more time talking to our staff.  We have an excellent bunch of people working here and they are all friends of mine.  They all have one fundamental and common trait, just like me.  They will do anything to please a customer.  People who didn’t have that trait, didn’t last very long at LRO.  Though we do have a lot of knowledge between us about fly fishing, we don’t have ego problems.  Our job is helping customers, not trying to impress them with what we know.  When I see that mindset in stores, where I am a customer, it has always turned me against the store.  I hate that attitude.  You know what I’m talking about.

We don’t have that problem.  We have had that problem at times.  But, it’s been a long time.  When it pops up it’s ugly head, I made sure the problem was taken care of one way or another without any remorse on my part.  To avoid that issue, one should be careful who they hire.

We never try to sell something to a customer that they don’t want or need.  We don’t push expensive gear.  That is not, nor has it ever been part of our MO.  We take pride in filling our customer’s needs with value, not overkill. 

I love our staff, every one of them.  They treat customers the way I want to be treated as a customer.  We can make costly mistakes.  No problem.  Stuff happens!  We can forget to do things.  No problem, as long as it doesn’t affect customer service.  That is the way we operate as a team and I’m proud to be part of that team. 

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
December 30, 2014 

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